Joe Pop

The time and the place

Kentish Town Road. Sunday mornings at the crack of 11.30 a.m, M and I usually go and have breakfast at our local greasy spoon. The one we favour is called Sarah’s, just opposite the Greek Orthodox church and I highly recommend it. They use a superior brand of oil for frying. Its got alarming orange plastic furniture, looking very Wimpy bar 1971, and the seats are all bolted to the floor. The staff are very friendly, and welcome us as regulars.”Hello my friend!” I have yet to determine their ethnic origin. Not Greek, maybe Turkish? Armenian? Inevitably M and I both have hangovers and the best cure is triple fried everything. While we wait we read the complimentary Sunday tabloids, marvelling at tales of alien abduction and admiring the adverts for porcelain figurines and plates depicting big eyed kittens.

Our food arrives, and everything is great. The waitress who serves us is a friendly young woman who is very beautiful and carefully made up, even on a Sunday morning. She quite fancies M, so she flirts with us as she wipes the table and refills the sugar dispenser. At the other tables, old men silently sip their tea, and the young couple with three kids all under five try to keep things under control. All the time, a tape is playing, and invariably its Eternal’s greatest hits and I now  know most of the words. We finish our food, fold up the papers and haul ourselves back home to bed.

Paleohora, a small village on the south coast of Crete. I’m sitting on the beach reading and very much enjoying the Cookie Mueller anthology. My beloved sunbathes next to me, ignoring me when I read aloud the  funny bits. German children play in a very restrained and well behaved manner some distance away. Suddenly, two pelicans, yes, PELICANS fly over the bay, like a pair of pterodactyls in the film 2,000,000 BC, and land in the water with a great splash.

The Empire Pub, Holborn. Its New Years Eve, and we are at the Bears and Chubbies Kilt and Body Harness party. I’m in a dark corner of the corridor outside the men's toilets. My shirt is around my neck and two men, one on each nipple are sucking the tits right off my chest. In that warm silence I come elegantly all over my leather trousers. Later, we walk home, to leave drunken New Year messages on friends answer phones.

New York. I've just been out clubbing with my best NYC friend Michael (who we all call Magda, after the Gabor sister they don't talk about). We went to Squeeze Box, a trashy and noisy gay rock n roll club where I  really enjoyed the heavy metal drag show by Tommy Chiffon, and admired his shoulder to elbow tattoo of Bette Midler. Pretty local boys eyed me up, wondering who this enigmatic tattooed stranger with a septum ring was. Or so I liked to think. I got very drunk, and felt a  great mixture of horny, happy and aggressive. I just wanted to grab the microphone off the stage and tell the entire club that I was from England, that I was really happy to be there, that I knew how to ROCK and I’d fight or fuck anyone who disagreed.

Wisely, I did not do this, but I really regret not saying hello to Jayne County, legendary rock n roll transsexual when I saw her in the toilet queue. But at the time I was just too drunk to talk. As we left the club at 3 a.m, the cold air sobered me up rapidly, and Magda offered to drive me around New York to see the skyline. The radio was playing something that sounded like Kraftwerk, robotic and soothing. It may seem an obvious cliche, but the New York night really was a million diamonds strewn on black velvet.

Junction of Hampstead Road and Euston Road. I find my self alone under a bus shelter in a torrential rainstorm. No one being around, and masked by the thundering traffic and rain, and being in a rock chick mood, I sing Celine Dion's ‘ My heart will go on ’ and Cher’s ‘ Believe ‘ at the top of my voice. I  make up rude lyrics to the bits I don’t know, which is nearly everything but the choruses. I thoroughly enjoy myself as the rain pores down, swinging my legs under the seat like a five  year old.